One hundred more Yazidi families have left displacement camps and returned to their ancestral homelands in the Sinjar (Shengal) area in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), according to the US Consulate in Erbil (Hewler).
“With the financial support of the US government, about 100 Yazidi families were able to return to their homes in Qahtaniyah in Sinjar from the camp for internally displaced persons,” the Cultural Centre of Caucasian Yazidis cited the consulate as saying in a statement.
Some 400 families remain in the camp for Iraq’s internally displaced persons (IDPs), the consulate said. Most of the ancient community now live as refugees in western countries and in IDP camps in the region, as they still try to recover from the 2014 Islamic State (ISIS) attacks that they identify as genocide.
December saw 89 families return home to Tal Izêr, while another 39 returned to Shengal in January. The Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) figures for 2022 show only 102 families were able to return home in 2022, out of some 175,000 Yazidis in IDP camps. Another 490,000 Yazidis remain in temporary housing situations within Iraq, waiting to return home.
The camps are able to offer severely lacking services to IDPs, as international assistance from 13 countries has cut off, and the region’s ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) has been pushing for Yazidis to head to Europe, according to Mezopotamya Agency’s October 2022 interview with Yazidi journalist İbrahim Êzidî. Ninety percent of camp residents have voiced a desire to return home, faced with deteriorating sanitation and heating issues in camps and the constant risk of frequent tent fires.
Those who manage to go back discover damaged infrastructure and a lack of habitable housing, with property disputes on top. Shengal also remains at risk from Turkish offensives in the region, which the KDP often appears to condone or directly support.
Yazidis have become a target in Turkey’s military operations due to their affiliation with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which helped many members of the community get away from attacks as PKK militants remained to defend a humanitarian corridor out of Shengal when KDP and other Iraqi forces fled, abandoning the region to ISIS takeover. The PKK also helped Yazidis form their own defence forces, called Sinjar Resistance Units (YPŞ) and Êzîdxan Women’s Units (YJÊ).
“Turkey’s goal is to inflict a new genocide on Yazidis by suppressing the Iraqi government through KDP”, Êzîdî told Mezopotamya, referring to the Shengal Agreement signed between KDP and the Iraqi government in October 2020 with Turkey’s support. The agreement does not recognise the Yazidi self-administration in the region.